WORKS OF ARMINIUS - VERSE THE FOURTEENTH
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VERSE THE FOURTEENTH
1. A closer investigation of this question and a demonstration taken from the text itself, that the apostle is here treating about a man paced under the law, and not under grace. 2. The manner in which Carnal and spiritual are opposed to each other in the scriptures. 3. An objection taken from 1 Corinthians iii, 1,2; and a reply to it. 4. The meaning of the phrase, sold under sin. The views of Calvin and Beza on this verse.
1. Having, in the preceding manner, considered the disposition and economy of the whole chapter, let us now somewhat more strictly investigate the question proposed by us, which is this: "Are those things which are recorded, from the fourteenth verse to the end of the seventh chapter, to be understood concerning a man who is under the law, or concerning one who is under grace?"
First of all, let some attention be bestowed on the connection of the fourteenth verse with those which preceded it; for the rational particle evail, and who are said, in other passages, to be in the flesh, and to walk according to the flesh, in opposition to those who are spiritual, who, "through the Spirit, have mortified the deeds of the flesh and have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts." But the apostle seems here to bestow this appellation on the Corinthians, or on some of them, with this two-fold reference; for he says that, with respect to knowledge, they are "babes in Christ," that is, unskillful and inexperienced in the doctrine of piety, who had to be "fed with milk, and who were not able to bear solid food." But with respect to affections, he says that they "are carnal, and walk as men," on account of the contentions and divisions which prevailed among them, from which it was evident that, in them, the flesh had the predominance over the Spirit. But in whatever sense or manner the word is used in this passage, it brings no advantage to the cause of those who declare that the apostle calls himself a carnal man in Romans vii, 14. For if the same word is not used in 1 Corinthians iii, 1, in a sense similar to that which it bears in Romans vii, 14, then it is adduced in an unlearned and useless manner in elucidation of this question; for equivocation is the fruitful parent of error. If the word is to be received in the same sense in both passages, then I am at liberty firmly to conclude from this, in favour of my opinion, that the apostle cannot be called carnal in Romans 7, for under that appellation he severely reprehends the Corinthians because he "was not able to speak unto them as unto spiritual persons," since they were such as were still carnal; which he would have done without any just cause, if he were himself also comprehended under that title when understood in the same signification.
4. Thirdly. The same man about whom the apostle is here treating, is also said, in this, the fourteenth verse, to be sold under sin, or, (which is the same thing,) the slave of sin, and become its servant by purchase, which title can, in no sense whatsoever, be adapted to men placed under grace -- a misappropriation of epithet, against which the Scriptures openly reclaim in many passages: "If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John viii, 36.) "For he that is dead" is justified, that is, he "is freed from sin" (Rom. vi, 7.) "But God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin; being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness," or those who are completely subject to it. (Rom. vi, 17,18.) But that the two things here specified [the service of sin, and that of righteousness] are so opposed to each other, as not to be able to meet together at once in the same individual, is evident from the twentieth verse of the same chapter: "For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness." But that the same remark applies to a man who is under the law, is apparent from a comparison of 2 Corinthians iii, 17, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," with Gal. v, 18, "But if ye be led of Spirit, ye are not under the law;" therefore, they who are of the Spirit are free. But such persons are not under the law; therefore, those who are under the law are not free, but are the servants of sin. For, whether any one unwillingly, and compelled by the force of sin, obeys it, or whether it willingly -- whether anyone becomes the slave of sin by the deed of his first parents, or whether, in addition to this, "he has sold himself to work evil in the sight of the Lord," as it is related concerning Ahab in 1 Kings xxi, 20. In each of these cases is the man truly and deservedly called the servant of sin. "For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage." (2 Pet. ii, 19.) And "whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." (John viii, 34.) "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" (Rom. vi, 16.) For the different mode of servitude does not exempt or discharge [the subject of it] from servitude, but is conclusive that he is under it.
Should any one reply, concerning the man mentioned in Romans vii, 14, "that he is not simply called the servant of sin, but that he is so denominated with this restriction -- that he is the servant of sin with respect to the flesh, and not with respect to the mind, as is apparent from the last verse of the same chapter, which is an explanation of this verse," I rejoin that this man is simply called the servant of sin, but of the description of those who unwillingly and with a reluctant conscience serve sin. But with respect to the manner in which the last verse of the chapter is to be understood, we shall perceive what it is when we arrive at that part.
But the greater part of the divines of our profession acknowledge that this fourteenth verse must be understood as relating to an unregenerate man, to one who is not placed under grace. Thus Calvin observes on verse, "The apostle now begins to bring the law and the nature of man a little more closely into hostile contact with each other." And on the subsequent verse he says, "He now descends to the more particular example of a man already regenerate." Thus also, Beza, against Castellio, in the refutation of the first argument to the thirteenth and fourteenth calumny, (fol. 413,) says, "St. Paul exclaims that he is not sufficient even to think that which is good; and in another passage, considering himself not within the boundaries of grace, he says, But I am carnal, sold under sin."